US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) has planned a series of nationwide raids this weekend to detain and remove thousands of undocumented immigrants, according to multiple national media reports. ICE officials have confirmed that agents will target at least 2,000 undocumented immigrants in at least 10 US cities for removal. In our Legal Update, we provide background and a checklist to assist employers in identifying key factors related to the risk profiles for worksite enforcement. Read the Legal Update here.
Given the opposition of the former Judiciary Committee chair, Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA), who had blocked a similar bill in 2011, the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2019 (S. 386) had been given little chance of passage until this week, when a deal was reached with the bill’s sponsor, Senator Mike Lee (R-UT), to include language to address a number of Senator Grassley’s longstanding concerns with the H-1B visa program. This Legal Update provides background, details of the new H-1B measures, and information on a companion House bill.
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On May 31, 2019, the US Department of State (“DOS” or “Department”) updated its visa application forms to require persons seeking US visas to disclose their social media identifiers. The DOS defines “identifier” to include any name used on a social media platform like Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. The Department’s FAQs state that the information will be used to strengthen the process for vetting applicants and confirming their identity. The FAQs further state that applicants’ social media information will be protected by the same confidentiality guarantees and safeguards that protect other personal information disclosed in the visa application process, and the Department has stated that social media information will not be used to profile individuals by race or religion.
Last Thursday, President Trump unveiled an immigration plan that prioritizes skilled workers entering the United States and introduces a new “Build America” visa based on a points-based system. Law360 spoke to Mayer Brown’s Elizabeth Espin Stern and Paul Virtue about the potential impact of the plan, including whether raising the bar for what constitutes a skilled worker might reduce the overall number of skilled workers admitted into the United States. Read the article here.
President Trump unveiled his plan to “transform” the US immigration system, during a speech given at the White House on May 16, 2019. He emphasized two goals for his plan: “First, it stops illegal immigration and fully secures the border. And, second, it establishes a new legal immigration system that protects American wages, promotes American values, and attracts the best and brightest from all around the world.” In his remarks, he addressed legal immigration, including the path to permanent residency: “We will replace the existing green card categories with a new visa, the Build America visa,” to be based on a points-based selection system. Read the speech here.
Mayer Brown’s DC-based litigation team secured a victory when The Middle District of North Carolina issued a nationwide injunction barring the government from applying a 2018 policy memorandum released by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services, which purported to fundamentally alter how “unlawful presence” is calculated for the more than a million people present in the US on F, J, and M visas. This includes virtually all of the nation’s international students as well as recent graduates working at American companies. The Trump administration policy would have backdated “unlawful presence” calculations, which would have caused tens of thousands of individuals to be barred from reentering the country for periods of three and 10 years due to technical violations. A consortium of colleges and universities retained Mayer Brown to devise a strategy to oppose this action. The team included partner Paul Hughes, who argued the motion, and partner Michael Kimberly and associate Andrew Lyons-Berg, who assisted with briefs.
A legal battle over the future of hundreds of thousands of individuals presently in the United States based upon Temporary Protected Status (“TPS”) continues following the Trump administration’s steps to end TPS for certain individuals.
What is TPS?
The United States provides TPS to nationals of certain countries based upon conditions in the country that temporarily prevent the country’s nationals from returning safely, such as ongoing armed conflict, an environmental disaster, or other extraordinary and temporary conditions. At present, 10 countries are designated for TPS: El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. A May 2018 report from US Citizenship and Immigration Services noted that 437,402 individuals held TPS status as of December 31, 2017. Continue Reading Legal Battle Over Temporary Protected Status Continues
On April 22, 2019, the Department of State published a final rule setting out procedures that allow consular officers to discontinue granting visas to nationals of a country subject to sanctions under § 243(d) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.
Section 243(d) provides that—when notified by the Secretary of Homeland Security that a foreign country government has denied or unreasonably delayed accepting an alien who is the citizen, subject, national, or resident of that country and is subject to a final order of removal from the United States— the Secretary of State shall order consular officers in that foreign country to “discontinue granting” immigrant visas, nonimmigrant visas, or both to citizens, subjects, nationals, or residents in that country. The Secretary of State imposes these visa sanctions by issuing an order to consular officers that describes the category or categories of visas and applicants subject to discontinuation of visa grants.
Effective May 1, 2019, the US Embassy in Tel Aviv will begin accepting E-2 visa applications filed by Israeli citizens. This long-awaited announcement comes close to seven years after President Obama signed legislation in 2012 implementing a bilateral investment treaty with Israel on the condition that Israel provide reciprocal immigration status for American investors. The Israeli government did not approve the reciprocal agreement until 2014, and it took an additional four years for both the Israeli and US governments to agree to the reciprocal nature of the visas.
A ceremony will be held on May 6, 2019, to commemorate this historic accomplishment.